Acoustical Engineering

What Is an Acoustical Engineering Degree?

Acoustical engineering concerns itself with the science of sound; what makes it and how to control it. Acoustical engineering also studies the vibrations of sound. It is primarily a science used in noise control, but also studies how sound can be of benefit, both for entertainment and scientific purposes.

Acoustical engineers manipulate sound, harnessing it as a source of technology. Acoustical engineers design ways to control sound to benefit humans rather than harm them. For example, acoustical engineers design noise barriers on highways to protect homes from roadway noise on the other side.

Acoustical engineers also design sound absorbers and buffers used in studios, cinemas and concert venues to control the acoustical environment and provide the best possible sound reproduction possible. Acoustical engineers understand that sound travels differently indoors versus outdoors, and design ways to reproduce the sound in the best possible light depending on the environmental and architectural surroundings.

Acoustical engineers are not limited to the science of sound in terms of noise control, however. Acoustical engineers also use sound for medical and scientific applications. Sound waves are the foundation for ultrasonic and infrasonic technology; the same technology used during ultrasounds, deep sea exploration and the assessment of earthquake and volcanic seismic and eruptive activity. Medical and geological science has greatly benefited from ultrasonic and infrasonic technology.

Acoustical Engineering Job Opportunities

An acoustics consultant is the logical job choice for acoustical engineer graduates. These consultants work in all applications of acoustical engineering, including noise and vibration assessment, abatement and control; environmental noise surveying; construction/building noise surveying; designing and working with sound equipment, such as recording and broadcast equipment; advancing ultrasound and infrasonic technology. Acoustics consultant salaries range from £20,000 to £25,000 a year; experienced acoustics consultants can earn £25,000 to £35,000; senior level consultants earn £50,000 a year or more.

Students graduating with a degree in acoustical engineering interested in machinery might also work as mechanical engineers, as part of the mechanical engineering process involves sound. The level of noise emitting from vehicles, machinery and factories is highly regulated, and all machinery must fall with the noise abatement regulations of the environment in which they are to operate. Mechanical engineers begin their careers making £20,000 to £28,000, with the potential to earn £40,000 to £55,000 after working in the field for 10 to 15 years.

Acoustical Engineering Curriculum

The acoustical engineering curriculum is rich in mathematics and physics, as this science is extremely diverse and covers a wide variety of fields. Other studies include gaining a strong perspective in mechanics and manufacturing processes, electronics and signal processing and materials studies. Students will also learn how to collect data and present environmental, structural and mechanical sound assessments, as well as provide well-researched solutions to any legal, regulatory or environmental sound and/or vibration issues discovered during the initial study. Focus on sound technology in medicine and geology is also a part of the acoustical engineering curriculum.

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